In a ceremony held September 21 at the Canadian War Museum, the construction site of the National Holocaust Monument, now being built across the street from the museum at the corner of Wellington and Booth Streets, was dedicated.
“It is important for Canadians and the rest of the world to remember the suffering and murder of millions of Jews and others in the Holocaust. We must never forget the stories of the victims, and the important lessons of the Holocaust,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“As Canadians and citizens of the world, we must fight the hatred and fear that once fuelled these deplorable acts, and ensure that tolerance and pluralism always triumph over anti-Semitism and racism,” said Trudeau. “We must also pay tribute to the resilience of those [Holocaust survivors] who survived that horrific ordeal and went on to make enormous contributions here in Canada as well as many other countries around the world.”
Other speakers included National Holocaust Monument Development Council members Fran Sonshine and Rabbi Daniel Friedman, Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly, and Carleton University student Sophia Mirzayee. The master of ceremonies was Council member Elliot Lifson.
Sonshine, national chair of the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem, and Rabbi Friedman of Beth Israel Congregation in Edmonton described the near-decade long timeline from the monument’s conception, to its design competition and fundraising, and finally to its current construction phase.
Sonshine paid particular tribute to Laura Grosman, the then-University of Ottawa student who first conceived of the idea of a monument in 2007, and worked with member of Parliament Peter Kent, before his appointment to Cabinet, and then with then-MP Tim Uppal to make her dream a reality through the passage of a private member’s bill. Grosman was in attendance at the ceremony.
Mirzayee, a former student at Charles H. Hulse Public School in Ottawa, explained that the Holocaust education she received as a member of teacher Patrick Mascoe’s Grade 6 class was the catalyst for her decision to study human rights at Carleton. Mirzayee returns to her elementary school each June as a volunteer at the day of cultural understanding that Mascoe’s class holds with Grade 6 students from the Ottawa Jewish Community School.
Construction of the monument is expected to be completed by next summer.